Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Ivaro N Strike Gold in Great American $300,000 Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Ivaro N Strike Gold in Great American $300,000 Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Crowds filled the stands at the HITS Ocala Grand Prix Ring on Sunday afternoon to watch the world’s top athletes compete in the Great American $300,000 Grand Prix. The day concluded with a thrilling five-horse jump-off featuring athletes representing four countries. In the end, it was Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) and Ivaro N who produced the only double clear effort of the day, claiming one of the biggest wins of her career. Scott Keach (AUS) and Noble De La Chapelle earned the second-place prize with the fastest 4-fault jump-off, while Aaron Vale (USA) and Obi Wan placed third as the day’s pathfinders.

“I’m still on cloud nine, I still can’t believe it – I’ve used up all my luck for the year,” smiled Goldman-Smolen after her win. “I’ve been knocking on the door a long time in these bigger classes. I am so proud of my horse – he gave every ounce of effort.”

Course designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) built a large and technical track that used the expansive Grand Prix Ring to challenge horse and rider combinations from start to finish over 14 obstacles with a tight time allowed. Rails fell throughout the course, including through the vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination followed shortly by a triple bar, a delicate vertical, and an oxer vertical double combination. Finally, athletes finished over the final line that featured two of the biggest fences of the course, including the last skinny vertical.

“I have been here for a long time and it was a challenge to build in the new ring,” noted Azevedo. “I haven’t seen the riders before, I haven’t seen the horses jumping, so it was very challenging for me today. In the beginning, I was a little stressed, but I was glad to have five clears.”

The jump-off featured a tight rollback, a vertical-oxer double from the original triple combination and a long gallop to the final oxer. Vale was the first to return with Obi Wan as the pathfinders during the first round. In an effort to leave the remaining riders chasing them, the duo lowered the height of the combination, incurring 4 faults in 44.781 seconds, which would hold up for third place.

“Going first in the jump-off and a couple of fast riders behind me, I was trying to put in a good, fast round,” said Vale. “Unfortunately, I had one down. I really kind of got the ride the way I wanted. The horse is a bit inexperienced at this level, but he’s a real trier, so it was unfortunate I couldn’t have left that one up and put a little more pressure on the rest of them. But he had a great season on the new footing here. He loved it, so I can’t complain at all.”

Keach was next with Nobe De La Chapelle and looked to be the first clear, but his luck ran out at the penultimate vertical. Nevertheless, his time of 44.117 seconds was still fast enough to move ahead of Vale, claiming the second-place prize at the end of the day.

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